Repair or replace decisions are a constant challenge for manufacturers, and asset performance management plays a crucial part in this. Repairs are often cheaper and faster, especially when there are also compatibility issues with older equipment. This is also true where the products made on the line are at the end of their life. According to Schneider Electric, improving asset performance improves productivity, but only when the right decisions are made.
The design life of a plant is usually longer than that of its production assets or components like control systems. Plants are also at different levels of maturity when it comes to managing the life cycles of their assets. In general, you can approach this topic using three different strategies depending on the IoT goals for the plant. These are: extending the lifespan, modernising, and investment prioritisation.
Extending the Lifespan: maintain the asset to the end of its useful life
If an asset has a limited lifetime, the best option might be to keep it running until its last breath. For example, you might do this if the product produced by the asset will cease in a few years. This strategy avoids the costs associated with installing a new system, lost downtime or retraining staff. Before adopting this policy, you need to ensure that you have:
– Access to spare parts
– Access to technical support
– Worker skills and training to operate and maintain the older equipment or system
Furthermore, a custom service agreement with a specialist partner close to the original provider of your control systems will support this. They may also provide services like consignment spare parts and local access to specialist expertise or management.
Modernisation: update your system to the latest technology
Modernisation is the right option for upgrading to the latest technology and unlocking higher levels of productivity. Furthermore, besides increasing efficiency and productivity, it can address obsolescence and yield control. A key point here is not to upgrade like for like.
Working with a preferred supplier helps make the most of your existing control system investments and reduces switching time. By the same token, it minimises risk, switching costs and time to market: often with little business disruption.
Investment prioritisation and future asset performance
You should consider the long-term requirement of the business and production needs. What new or disruptive trends are on the horizon, and how will they impact the products and production? For example, the way that the electric car is changing vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers, or how IIoT will affect producers.
It is important to rank investment in assets that are most crucial to the success of the business. Finding the right approach will improve Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) and benefit all stakeholders.